DHASA2017 – Abstract

Combining task-based teaching and computer assisted language learning (CALL) in a computer program for international students studying Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University

Beukes, Vernita
Stellenbosch University

This paper focuses on two learning areas namely task-based learning and computer assisted language learning (CALL) and indicates how these two learning areas can be combined in a computer program for international students studying Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University. The question of how these two learning areas could be used in a South African context with Afrikaans as the instructional language, was used to underpin the research.

In my presentation, I will firstly provide some background on both the Beginner Afrikaans level 1 course as well as the students who are enrolled for the course. The above mentioned course falls under the International Program at Stellenbosch University (IPSU) which is coordinated by die International Office. The Language Centre at Stellenbosch University is the service provider for all language acquisition courses.

The presentation will further discuss the cognitive theory of multi-media learning developed by Richard Mayer (2001, 2005, 2009). This theory investigates how a multi-media presentation containing text, video and pictures enters the sensory memory, gets processes by the working memory and how it gets integrated with prior knowledge so that it can be stored in the long-term memory. The theory further emphasises the importance of selecting and organising sounds and images so that it can become a verbal model and pictorial model. Richard Mayer (2001) also developed twelve instructional principles as part of his evidence-seeking efforts for the science of instruction which can be used to design any multi-media presentation. The main aim of these principles is to reduce extraneous processing, to manage essential processing and to foster general processing. I have chosen four of the abovementioned instructional principles namely the coherence principle, the redundancy principle, the spatial contiguity principle and the personalization principle which will be used in the computer program.

A needs analysis asking students to list the subjects that they want to be able to talk about was also done with the students who attended the Beginner Afrikaans level I course. Out of this abovementioned needs analysis 8 subjects was identified. The subjects (in order of merit) was:

1. Places to visit in South Africa

2. Direction

3. Housing

4. Hobbies

5. Ordering food

6. Weekend plans

7. Buying food in a supermarket

8. Movies / Favourite Actors / Favourite Actresses

The four most popular subjects namely places to visit in South Africa, direction, housing, and hobbies was taken and combined with four of the design principles that Mayer (2001, 2005, 2009) suggested. Focus on form activities as stipulated by Willis (1996, 2007) was also added to the four design principles so that the connection with task based

teaching could be achieved. The computer program that was developed out of the abovementioned will be discussed in detail.

The last part of the presentation will focus on the analytical framework that I intend to use to evaluate the computer program that was developed at the end of 2016. I have decided to apply certain aspects of expansive learning because it focuses primarily on change and enhancement of any program. Expansive learning was developed by Engeström (2001).

In my presentation I will shortly explain the seven steps within expansive learning: In steps 1 and 2 of expansive learning an ethnographic analysis of the current situation will take place in which the students will question their present activity by jointly analyzing problematic situations in the computer program. According to steps 3 and 4 of expansive learning the transforming and examinig of the computer program should then take place in order to find a new and improved version of the program. The new program should then according to step 5 of expansive learning be implemented and the new version should be tested. In steps 6 and 7 of expansive learning reflection on the new program and consolidation of the new program should take place.

In 2017 I intend to implement the analytic framework by focusing on steps 1 and 2 in the first semester. Students that attend the Beginner Afrikaans level 1 course are only here for one semester and therefore the students that attend the abovementioned course in the first semester (February 2017 to May 2017) will fill in a questionnaire and be part of interviews to determine the problematic situations within the computer program. The program will then be refined between the first and second semester. The students that attend the course in the second semester (July 2017 to October 2017) will then test and reflect on the new version of the program.